Boko Haram raids Nigerian villages, killing 35, officials say

A screen grab taken on April 19, 2014 obtained by AFP shows a man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram.

Story highlights

  • 35 killed in latest Boko Haram attacks on villages in northeast Nigeria
  • Militants threw Molotov cocktails at homes and shot residents who tried to escape
  • The group still holds more than 200 schoolgirls it abducted in April

Boko Haram insurgents killed 35 people in coordinated early morning raids on three villages in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, a military source and residents said, the latest deadly attacks by the militant group.

Dozens of Boko Haram gunmen dressed in military uniforms raided Gumushi, Amuda and Arbokko Wednesday in all-terrain vans and on motorcycles, opening fire on residents and torching homes with Molotov cocktails.

At least 26 people were killed in Gumushi alone, a military officer in Maiduguri said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the incidents.

"The insurgents hurled petrol bombs into homes, setting them ablaze and shot residents as they tried to escape," said the army officer about the 6 a.m. raid.

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Attacks on the neighboring farm villages of Amuda and Arbokko earlier, around 2 a.m., left nine people dead and several homes destroyed.

Arbokko resident Josiah Ali said people were asleep when Boko Haram struck.

"The gunmen fired at people as they rushed out of their homes in a bid to escape," Ali said.

Thirteen people were seriously injured in the attack in Amuda, resident Pirda Takweshe said.

Borno state police commissioner Lawan Tanko confirmed the attacks, but did not give details on casualties.

Monday, Boko Haram stormed a military base and a police station in Yobe state, also in the northeast, security sources said. The attacks in the town of Buni Yadi left 18 soldiers and 15 police officers dead, the sources said.

The group has stepped up its deadly raids on villages in Borno state in recent months.

Boko Haram, which means "western education is a sin," is still holding more than 200 girls it abducted last month from a school in Chibok, also in Borno state.

The militant group says its aim is to impose a stricter enforcement of Sharia law across Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, which is split between a majority Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

READ: Boko Haram kills 33 security personnel in Nigeria attacks, sources say

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READ: CNN exclusive: Nigerian girl who escaped Boko Haram says she still feels afraid